Plumbing maintenance issues change with the seasons. Very cold weather can wreak havoc on plumbing, as in the winter two elements come together: water and very cold temperatures. One of the most common problems during winter is frozen pipes. This can result in serious damage, as the pressure created by frozen water inside a pipe can build and potentially burst the pipe. This can result in flooding which can damage furniture, carpets and appliances. This also increases the risk of mould and mildew growth. Signs of freezing pipes include:
- Frost forming on the exterior of a pipe
- Little or no water coming from the taps
- An unpleasant odour in the sink
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to limit the likelihood of this risk:
1. Insulate your pipes
Insulation can keep your pipes from losing those last few degrees of heat energy. Exposed pipes (both cold water and hot water) can be covered with foam pipe insulation sleeves or wrapped with pipe insulation tape which is available to buy from most DIY stores. Electrical heat tape can be applied to short spans of pipe in areas that may be particularly prone to freezing. You should pay special attention to water tanks and pipes in unheated areas like loft spaces and garages, or in any property likely to be unoccupied for long periods.
2. Circulate warm air
Warm air circulating throughout your home during very cold weather also benefits plumbing below floors and inside walls that may be susceptible to freezing. Try to maintain an interior temperature of at least 15 degrees Celsius, and open cabinets under sinks to transmit household heat to the pipes.
3. Allow taps to emit a trickle of water
Leaving taps running in the house, just enough to emit a trickle of water, and leaving them dripping during any period when temperatures drop severely is an effective way to prevent damage to pipes. Pipes burst due to ice forming in the pipe expanding laterally and pressurising water trapped in the pipe between the site of the ice formation and a closed tap or other outlet. This over-pressurised water is the force that actually bursts the pipe. So, opening taps slightly and allowing them to dribble provides pressure relief and is less likely to encourage pipe damage.
If you have any plumbing issues during this winter, please contact Max Shutler Plumbing & Heating Ltd for advice or emergency repairs.